Last year I was contacted by the folks at ReelSonar about my possibly interest in helping them to introduce a revolutionary new product for the fishing world to our viewers through this site. Although at that time the iBobber was in the very early stages of development and testing, it was fairly easy to see that this product had the potential of being a very big hit to fishermen worldwide. So we excitedly signed up to help spread the word, with the promise that when the product had completed testing we would have one come our way to test out on Southern Utah waters!
About 2 months ago the iBobber showed up on my doorstep! I was very excited to break it out and get the review underway, but a series of spring commitments (both work and personal), plus a string of bad weather events when I did have the free time to fish led to a time lag in getting the product out on the water. Over the past 3 weeks I have finally had a few opportunities on some local lakes, and I'm excited to share my thoughts with you on the product.
First, what is the iBobber? This my friends is the smallest sonar/fish finder that I have ever seen in my life! I was pretty content with another portable fish finder that I had received about 3 years ago, which I picked up because it was very compact, light weight, and portable. However, I never imagined having a fish finder that could fit in a pocket!
The iBobber is simply a large "bobber" (I say large in comparison to bobbers, this thing actually fits easily in the palm of your hand). The iBobber is the actual sonar. How do you read the display? Well, that's the pretty amazing part; the iBobber links to your smartphone via Bluetooth! With a 100' range this gives you a lot of freedom to move about, away from your fishing rod even while maintaining an eye on whats going on beneath the surface. My initial thought with this fish finder was pretty obvious, probably something most readers are already thinking about as well; now I have a way of checking out what I can't get my boat and current fish finder into. I was excited at the thought that if my casting was accurate, I could check up against logs, rocks, weeds, and other structure to determine if the fish were there.
So how about my experience with the iBobber? Well, honestly the first trip was a little rough! I read up on the instructions, and hit the water, and found myself unable to connect to the iBobber for the first time. Typical of me, I hiked to the lake and left the instruction booklet in the truck. OK, now let's try this again!
The second trip I took all I needed with me! I had no trouble at all gaining a connection to the iBobber, and it immediately began streaming the depth and lake bed visual to my phone. I had made some simple mistakes the first trip, in fact I had connected then and didn't realize it! Within seconds this time, it started to pick up fish as well, sitting at about 12-16' deep in 20' of water. No wonder my top water tactics weren't working this day! A quick adjustment and I was into great trout fishing in no time!
The next test was the water bed mapping feature. I read up on the instructions in the manual, this seemed easy enough. Just go into the mapping mode, cast the bobber, then click start on the iPhone. Then reel back in, click the stop button and the map would be displayed. Well, it was just that simple for sure. A quick 60' drag back into the boat and the map revealed to me a couple of deep pockets, by the way the display looked I would guess they were formed by boulders. These pockets looked very appealing for fishing, and wouldn't you know it, they did provide the best opportunity for catching brook trout that evening.
Back in the main menu, I also found my way into readouts such as water temperature, air temperature, relative humidity, winds, and barometric pressure. This small device can do just about everything that those large, expensive fish finders will do. It also features a lunar calendar, and "trip log" where you can enter details about your trip for future reference, as well as a means of sharing that information with your fishing pals via social media. Of course it is also equipped with a strike indicator alarm and even an LED beacon. This little jewel really does it all.
The only real problem that I encountered was again my fault, as the next trip I did not recharge the unit. The specs indicate that it has an 8 hour battery, which I believe is accurate, as I used it quite a bit before the last trip. I failed to bring the charger with me! Again, purely my fault and I felt disappointed to map another one of my favorite lakes.
|The iBobber at work from the float tube|
The only test I wish I could perform with the iBobber is with ice fishing. ReelSonar does state the the bobber is perfectly safe and operational for ice fishing. With a depth range of 135' I am very stoked to get it out on Fish Lake this winter to search for lake trout in the deeper waters of this large lake. I can also see a huge benefit to the freedom it gives you to move about on the ice. I quite often find myself in and out of the shelter, or away from my one rod tending to kids, getting them setup to fish as well. It will be great to keep the sonar in the water while taking the display with me on the phone as I move about!
So to break it down, I really don't have any cons with this product, so here's the pros for you:
Affordable: ($99 for the iBobber and the app is free)
Very easy to use
Gives a big advantage to where you can see (by casting) over other sonar devices
Easy to charge
Excellent visual graphics with today's smartphones
Bluetooth Smart connects easily with your phone and is low use on the phone's battery
Charging unit is also small and portable (vehicle, ATV, etc.)
Waterbed mapping feature saves a lot of work of moving your watercraft around
These features and others (such as the trip log/sharing capability) make it FUN to use!
And again, a review on some of the specs:
Casting range of 100' (Bluetooth range)
Depth maximum of 135'
Strike indicator alarm
Water bed mapping
GPS tagging (to tag fishing hotspots)
8 hours of battery life
59mm diameter, weighs 47 grams
The unit powers on simply by contact with water
Again, this product is very new, and in fact you won't even find it in most of the major sporting goods stores yet. Southern Utah Hunt and Fish was extremely privileged to get in on the iBobber so early in it's creation. It's going to be a great product due to it's functionality and simplicity!
So where can I find the iBobber?
The easiest thing I would recommend would be to visit the ReelSonar website and click on the "retailers" tab at the top of the page to find your closest dealer. More dealers are being added frequently. While you are on their webpage, be sure to browse through it to check out more information such as frequently asked questions, specifications, where the development of the iBobber came from, and a short clip of the iBobber in action.
You can also purchase the iBobber directly from the ReelSonar website.
We will be sharing more about this incredible little sonar device as well in the future, complete with video of the iBobber and it's features in action. For now I will say that I stand firmly behind this product and would most definitely recommend it to my viewers and friends. I look forward to using the iBobber on more lakes and in more applications, and sharing it with you here. Stay tuned for more!
And a big thanks to Alex over at ReelSonar for allowing me to be a part of the journey!